Does your mouth get dry when you run?
Does your mouth get dry when you run? Here's why and what can help you.
What is dry mouth?
If you ever feel like your mouth is dry or sticky, or you have thick stringy saliva, you may be suffering from dry mouth. Also known as xerostomia, the condition causes a decrease in saliva production in the mouth, leading to some unpleasant symptoms.
Saliva is a good and necessary thing to keep your mouth moist and prevent symptoms like bad breath and even tooth decay, as it removes bacteria from the mouth.
Dry mouth can make speaking, swallowing, and chewing difficult. It can make your food taste different and even make your voice sound hoarse or harsh. Prolonged dry mouth can also cause grooves or ridges on the tongue.
What Causes Dry Mouth?
Having a dry mouth can be common among runners, but fortunately, it is generally a temporary and situational problem. It could be due to the way you breathe while running, as well as your hydration levels.
When your body is dehydrated from sweating, it causes a decrease in saliva production. This dry mouth can increase in hot weather as you tend to sweat more. Also, runners tend to breathe with their mouths open when they run, and the constant flow of air will dry their mouths.
Also, the way you breathe during the day and night, or if you snore, can also cause dry mouth. Wake you up in the morning with morning breath? Dry mouth is known to cause bad breath. Sleeping with your mouth open and snoring makes the saliva in your mouth dry, leading to morning breath.However, there are other possible causes of dry mouth besides the way you breathe. Prescription and over-the-counter medications, such as antidepressants, anxiolytics, antihistamines, blood pressure and heart medications, and certain pain relievers, can decrease hydration and moisture in the mouth. Smoking or using tobacco products can also contribute to the problem.
There are also several medical conditions that are known to cause dry mouth, such as Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, stroke, and many autoimmune diseases.
Chemotherapy and radiation treatments for cancer can also cause dry mouth by changing the amount and composition of saliva. These changes may go away once cancer treatment is complete.
How runners can prevent dry mouth.
For most runners, dry mouth can be prevented by controlled nose breathing during the run and staying hydrated throughout the day.
Make sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after workouts to restore saliva flow and reduce bacterial overgrowth. Stay away from sugary drinks, as this will increase the risk of cavities. A mouth gel has a longer duration of action, so gels are better for longer runs.
What to do for chronic dry mouth.
There are prescription medications you can take to help prevent dry mouth, which work by stimulating the production of saliva in your mouth. If you suspect that your dry mouth is chronic, talk to your doctor about the best treatment route.